Increased Runway and Airport Throughput - SESAR project PJ02 (EARTH)

The project

The SESAR 2020 high-performing airport operations – increased runway and airport throughput project PJ02 (EARTH) focuses on developing, validating and delivering separation and procedures to improve runway and airport throughput considering wake vortex, weather, the environment and noise while taking account of different levels of traffic demand, future aircraft capabilities and airport configurations. Once validated, the concept design will be handed over to industry for industrialisation – developing a new human-machine interface (HMI) or integrating the software into existing platforms.

Whilst many of the concepts supporting this project are not planned for deployment before 2025, some elements have already been deployed, such as Time-Based Separation (TBS) at London Heathrow (LHR) and RECAT EU, reduced wake separation, at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport.

The implementation at CDG airport of RECAT-EU procedures and at LHR airport of TBS operations is a direct result of SESAR 1 development and validation.  These two operational procedures are among the earliest and most significant operational improvements resulting from the collaboration between partners in SESAR 1.

Challenges

Unless new sources of capacity are added to Europe’s increasingly capacity-constrained hubs, 1.9 million flights will not be accommodated in 2035, resulting in about 120 million passengers being unable to fly. This may lead to delays for passengers, more time wasted in the air and on the ground, more fuel being unnecessarily burnt and more carbon dioxide and other noxious and greenhouse-gas forming emissions being released.

This project can bring real improvements to address these issues and reduce the constraints faced by aircraft operators. Even if an airport does not need additional capacity, there are real efficiency gains to be had – such as improving runway throughput during peak periods of operation.

Deliverables

Safely enhancing airport capacity is therefore one of the key priorities for SESAR 2020 and PJ02, with eight project areas, and is one of the largest and most complex deliverables within the next stage of SESAR research. The seven solutions include:
  • Solution one (PJ.02-01) - Wake turbulence separation optimisation. One of the main aims is to develop a final approach delivery tool supporting optimised runway delivery (ORD) - allowing the controller to deal with various runway throughput enhancement concepts via a single HMI;
  • Solution two (PJ.02-02) - Enhanced arrival procedures. Mitigation of noise and adaptation of wake avoidance procedures through concepts such as multiple runway aiming points and adaptive glide slopes which move noise into the centre of the airport and take account of wake transport;
  • Solution three (PJ.02-03): Minimum Pair Separations based on required surveillance performance (RSP). Reduction of separation minima is dependent on the availability of accurate aircraft position data, which is related to RSP. The latter could support the reduction of pair-wise separation down to a minimum of 2 nautical miles (NM) for arrivals on final approach;
  • Solution five (PJ.02-05): Independent rotorcraft operations at the airport. This solution will develop rotorcraft-specific approach procedures;
  • Solution six (PJ.02-06): Improved access into secondary airports in low visibility conditions. This solution will improve access into secondary (small/medium) airports in low visibility conditions through the development of an affordable surveillance solution (e.g. remote tower camera-based systems);
  • Solution eight (PJ.02-08): Traffic optimisation on single and multiple runway airports. The solution aims to provide air traffic control (ATC) with an integrated dynamic assistance tool to improve single and multiple runway airport operations by increasing the predictability of runway capacity, optimising runway configuration and optimising arrival and/or departure spacing;
  • PJ.02-11: Enhanced terminal area for efficient curved operations. Using geometric vertical navigation guidance in the terminal manoeuvring area (TMA) will simplify operations by removing the workload associated with barometric and geometric vertical navigation transition, improving the efficiency and predictability of individual operations. In addition, it is expected to improve safety by reducing the rate of missed approaches.

Benefits

The results of validation activities and the early operational experience of introducing these concepts suggest the gains – in terms of reduced controller workload, increased traffic on busy runways, resilience of airfield operations during bad weather and reduced recovery times from major disruption – are substantial.

Some of the most important improvements to European aviation capacity, efficiency and resilience resulting from Single European Sky ATM (SESAR) research can be seen operating today at two of the continent’s busiest airports. At Paris/Charles de Gaulle airport, a more precise aircraft categorisation splits the current ICAO ‘Heavy’ and ‘Medium’ wake categories into ‘Upper’ and ‘Lower’ sub-categories and redefines the safe separation distances which can be applied to aircraft on approach. A new ‘super heavy’ wake  category fully integrates the Airbus A380 into the European Wake Vortex Re-categorisation (RECAT EU) scheme, removing the need for the ICAO State Letter that currently prescribes the wake separation for following aircraft. A 5-10% increase in runway throughput has already been achieved. At London/Heathrow (LHR) airport, time-based separation (TBS) dynamically adjusts the separation distance between arrivals, maintaining the time separation between aircraft at a constant equivalent to the distance separation required in a headwind of 5-7 knots and, in doing so, safely reduces approach separation to recover most of the capacity otherwise lost during strong headwinds. TBS has allowed the air navigation service provider NATS to land 2.9 additional aircraft an hour on strong wind days and cut air traffic flow management delays caused by headwinds by up to 60%.

Surveillance minima tests undertaken at Vienna, allowing controllers to separate aircraft by less than 2.5 NM, together with more precise runway occupancy management, have shown that runway throughput can be increased by between 10% and 15%. The additional capacity that the reduced separation provides reduces controller workload without any significant added complexity. The support tool used has been tested under strong wind conditions, supporting the controllers’ decision on when to turn aircraft on to final approach, helping them to deliver 55 movements an hour, a large increase on previous throughput measured in these conditions.

EUROCONTROL’s role

EUROCONTROL leads the research on maturing and integrating four projects which together will provide some of the core concepts and technologies helping airports to increase the number of aircraft they can manage on their busy runways and taxiways more safely, more efficiently and in a more environmentally responsible way.

There is a strong link between wake vortex, runway occupancy, enhanced approach procedures and minimum radar separation. Combining these concepts will optimise the approach sequence. By improving wake separation, reducing surveillance minima and predicting accurate runway occupancy, it will be possible to deliver an enhanced sequence with reduced separation distances, optimising runway throughput. EUROCONTROL’s role is to help mature these different procedures individually, then integrate them so that they can be seamlessly combined within a single HMI, to give the controller an efficient and user friendly way to deliver safe and reduced separation, irrespective of the concept, runway configuration or aircraft equipage.

Related projects

The work will be coordinated with the following SESAR projects:

  • PJ01 (Enhanced Arrivals and Departures) Extended AMAN: refined impact on Coupling Function and TMA Traffic optimisation
  • PJ03a (Integrated Surface Management) Weather-based runway conditions: refined impact on ROT prediction
  • PJ04 (Total Airport Management) Refined description of the prediction of estimated departure and arrival times
  • PJ14 (Essential and Efficient Communication, Surveillance and Surveillance Integration): GBAS-related performance requirements
  • PJ16 (Controller Working Position / Human Machine Interface): Refined and improved CWP design
  • PJ18 (4D Trajectory Management): Improved awareness of refined trajectory prediction process

Participating partners

  • AIRBUS SAS (France)
  • DEUTSCHES ZENTRUM FUER LUFT-UND RAUMFAHRT EV (Germany)
  • LEONARDO - FINMECCANICA SPA (Italy)
  • POLSKA AGENCJA ZEGLUGI POWIETRZNEJ (Poland)
  • LUFTFARTSVERKET (Sweden)
  • DASSAULT AVIATION (France)
  • DIRECTION DES SERVICES DE LA NAVIGATION AERIENNE (France)
  • ENTIDAD PUBLICA EMPRESARIAL ENAIRE (Spain)
  • ENAV SPA (Italy)
  • HONEYWELL AEROSPACE (France)
  • INDRA SISTEMAS (Spain)
  • STIFTELSEN SINTEF (Norway)
  • NATS (EN ROUTE) PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY (United Kingdom)
  • SWEDAVIA AB (Sweden)
  • SKYGUIDE, SA SUISSE POUR LES SERVICES DE LA NAVIGATION AERIENNE CIVILS ET MILITAIRES (Switzerland)
  • THALES AIR SYSTEMS SAS (France)
  • THALES AVIONICS SAS (France)
  • STICHTING NATIONAAL LUCHT- EN RUIMTEVAARTLABORATORIUM (Netherlands)
  • AUSTRO CONTROL OSTERREICHISCHE GESELLSCHAFT FUR ZIVILLUFTFAHRT MBH (Austria)
  • HEATHROW AIRPORT LIMITED (United Kingdom)
  • AVINOR AS (Norway)
  • FLUGHAFEN ZURICH AG (Switzerland)

Project leader

  • Vincent Treve
 

This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 731781.